All  
Top Stories This Week: A Big Stink, a Sacred Clean Up, a Magic Brooch and More

Top Stories This Week: A Big Stink, a Sacred Clean Up, a Magic Brooch and More

Print

In this top story overview, we highlight our most read articles this week, including a look at a study dispelling the ‘meat made us human’ hypothesis, an almighty stink in London, and a controversial clean up in Scotland. A brooch not just of beauty, but with magical healing inscription…oh and there was some interest in the Doddrige County Giants story.

Study Dispels Human Meat Diet Hypothesis, Changing Evolutionary Story

These 1.5 million year old fossil bones with cut marks from Koobi Fora, Kenya were used in the latest study to understand the evolution of the human meat diet. (Briana Pobiner / GWU)

These 1.5 million year old fossil bones with cut marks from Koobi Fora, Kenya were used in the latest study to understand the evolution of the human meat diet. (Briana Pobiner /  GWU)

In developed societies across the world today, many are converting to vegetarianism or veganism, following diets that completely exclude meat or animal products from their consumption habits. Over the course of human history, frequent meat eating has been associated as a distinctive marker between humans and other primates. However, a new study published in the journal  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)  actually shows that the human meat diet hypothesis has been overstated in early human evolution, questioning the hard-wiring of humans to be carnivores “by nature.”

Dr. W. Andrew Barr, an assistant professor of anthropology at the George Washington University, and lead author on the current study  remarked:

“It’s clear that eating meat has been important for many groups of humans throughout much of human history and prehistory. But the idea that there was a sudden evolutionary event where meat eating went from being relatively unimportant to being so central that it drove the evolution of key human traits just doesn’t shake out in our analysis of the published evidence.”

Read more…

Sacred Clootie Well Has Offerings Removed

Left, Clootie Well site before the unauthorized clean-up; Right Ashley Cowie at the site. Source: Left, F Leask / CC BY-SA 2.0 ; Right, @ashleycowie

Left, Clootie Well site before the unauthorized clean-up; Right Ashley Cowie at the site. Source: Left, F Leask /  CC BY-SA 2.0  ; Right,  @ashleycowie

An anonymous ‘cleaner’ has kind of destroyed an ancient site in Scotland. But unlike most acts of cultural destruction, this person performed a ‘pro-clean-up’ of the Highland’s famous Clootie Well.

The Tidy That’s Sparked A Highland Fury

At the Black Isle village of, just off the A832 in northern Scotland, for at least 1,400 years,  Highland folk have hung rags of clothes in trees around a well associated with mystical  healing powers.

I was born in Inverness, only 12 miles from this site, and my grandparents often took me to the Clootie Well to experience the legendary ‘eerie’ site. Here, where the wishes of people, some now passed, hung in the trees like ghosts, a mystery person has performed a clean-up, which according to  BBC has caused ‘a fierce debate,’ locally.

‘Clootie Wells' are only found in  Celtic areas of Scotland, Ireland and Cornwall. Munlochy's Clootie Well is today located right on the edge of a secondary country road, but traditionally it was set in deep woodlands beside an old track. Long before  Christianity, Celtic pilgrims travelled from far and wide to the Clootie Well water spring where they covered the branches of the trees and bushes in the surrounding hillock with rags (cloots).

Read more…

The Great Stink of 1858: When the Thames River was Filth and Excrement

Caricature of a 19th-century woman during London’s Great Stink woman drops her teacup in horror upon viewing a magnified drop of polluted Thames River water, Monster Soup commonly called Thames Water by William Heath (Public domain)

Caricature of a 19th-century woman during London’s Great Stink woman drops her teacup in horror upon viewing a magnified drop of polluted Thames River water, Monster Soup commonly called Thames Water by William Heath ( Public domain )

What happens when we stop taking care of our surroundings? Humans create a lot of waste, and it needs to be disposed of adequately. Neglecting to do so can only lead to trouble. Londoners living in 1858 had a first-hand experience of what happens when waste is not treated properly. The event known as the “Great Stink” was everything talked of in July and August of 1858. The extremely hot weather transformed the capital city of England into a great stinking mess. The main problem was the improper disposal of human waste, which almost all flowed directly into the Thames River. Disgusting, unethical, and straight out unhealthy, this problem caused a lot of issues for citizens of that vast city. So how was the “Great Stink” resolved?

Read more…

Thrilled Detectorist Finds 800-Year-Old Brooch with Magical Words to Ward off Illness

The Medieval Brooch found in Wiltshire. Credit: Solent News and Photo Agency

The Medieval Brooch found in Wiltshire. Credit: Solent News and Photo Agency

Metal detectorists have become important allies to the archaeology community. Over the past few years, several exciting finds of ancient coins, jewelry, tools, weapons, and other assorted metallic objects have been credited to their tireless  treasure-seeking efforts. These amateur explorers have made quite the impact in  British archaeology in particular  , and now a new searcher has joined the ranks of the acclaimed discoverers.

While scanning a field in Pewsey Vale, Wiltshire in March 2021, detectorist William Nordhoff got a hit that he at first thought had been generated by yet another piece of lead, which is all his latest surveys had been uncovering.

However, when he dug down and pulled the tiny object that had triggered his device out of the ground, “there was this glint of gold looking back at me,” he told a reporter from the  This is Wiltshire  news service.

The golden object he recovered was small, round and exceptionally lightweight (it was later measured at .2 ounces or 5.77 grams). It was covered with engraved letters on both outside and inside surfaces, all around its circumference, which revealed ‘magical’ words to ward off illness.

Read more…

The Giants of Doddridge County: Burials of a Vanished Race

Deriv; The Sutton Letter, courtesy authors, and a human skull. Representational image only. (Steve Snodgrass/ CC BY 2.0 )

Deriv; The Sutton Letter, courtesy authors, and a human skull. Representational image only. (Steve Snodgrass/  CC BY 2.0  )

In the summer of 1930, a series of newspaper articles appeared describing a most sensational discovery: a race of  gigantic beings  unearthed from two burial mounds in Doddridge County, West Virginia.

According to the Clarksburg Daily Exponent for June 15, 1930, in an article entitled  Two Prehistoric Indian Mounds Found Near Morgansville ( by Bruce Horton), the mounds were located on the farm of Benjamin Zahn in Morgansville, 12 miles (19 kilometers) west of Salem. The article mentions that Professor Ernest Sutton of Salem University carried out excavations.

Burials of a Vanished Race

The article makes remarkable claims regarding the “now vanished race” found buried in the mounds:

“The particular tribe or race which inhabited this section of the state is believed to have been composed of individuals ranging from seven to nine feet in height…”

Read more…

By Ancient Origins

Next article